I had promised to get my nephew Tyler out on the water at some stage over his school holidays.
The big plan was to push the boat off the trailer at Bowentown and head up the harbour to one of my favourite kingfish spots. Tyler’s job was to catch the kahawai for livebait and snapper for his dinner while I was gonna hang onto a livebait praying for a kingfish to visit my spot.
Totally forgetting it was Xmas, we turned up to a harbour alive with happy holiday makers. The place was a mess of boats, jet skis, kayaks, people on wakeboards and biscuits. This making it impossible to fish “my spot” cause now “my spot” was 30 other people’s “spot”. It’s just another thing that makes fishing that touch more challenging. After finding a nice quite piece of water away from the masses, the anchor was deployed, burley was pumping, rods were rigged and pilly cubes were drifting back with the current in search of a bite. It took a quite a while before I was watching a little red balloon bobbing around in a heavy burley trail.
Some time later that day Tyler asked if he could catch a kingfish? My answer was that he couldn’t catch it due to whatever excuse pooped into my head -only because if a kingfish was to eat the bait, I wanted to catch it lol! But the honest truth is, there are a lot of things that can go wrong during the fight due to angler error: giving the fish slack line and the hook coming out; getting busted off on something due to kingfish being the dirtiest fighters in the ocean; in shallow water they swim right up under the boat and bust you off on the anchor, the outboard motor or even just the hull of the boat. I really didn’t want a day of hard work ending that way!
After a little debate with Tyler a deal was struck. The deal was if Tyler could hook one of the many eagle rays that were feeding in the burley trail and he listened to my instructions on how to use the rod and learnt the art of fighting a big fish, landed the fish, took the hook out and then released it, AND, he had to do all of that on the coastal barra which only has about 5kgs of drag, which means he will have to learn how to use the rod properly to gain any line back at all. Then he could catch a kingfish.
click to enlarge
Well, he hooked an eagleray pretty much straight away and it would have taken 40 minutes with the little coastal barra on a near full drag, of run, after run, after run, and Tyler having to do 2 full laps of the boat to keep the fish off the anchor. But finally Mr eagleray made it into the net. Over the 40 minutes connected to that fish, Tyler went from having pretty much no idea to being a master at working a rod. He had the whole short lift, short drop of the rod, one turn of the handle thing down packed! The rod was bent the hole time (no slack line given at any stage) he was even able to get the tip of the rod down under the out board to avoid the ray dusting him off on the prop. Now Uncle Nathan was all out of excuses! The big spinning reel with the livebait rigged at the other end was now in Tyler’s excited little hands, with instructions of not to take his eyes off his livebait at any stage for any reason.
“There was a real big swirl by my kahawai!!!!”
When I looked around, the clip had already released the line and there was just a blur of yellow braid leaving the reel in free spool. The reel was then flicked into gear and Tyler was hooked up to his first kingfish. I got to listen to the reel singing that most enchanting tune for the next while, until Tyler had the kingfish boat side. Needless to say there were smiles all round! Tyler now has a kingfish PB of 78cms.
It’s one thing to hook big angry fish but it can sometimes be another thing to land them. Learning how to get the best out of your set up and put maximum pressure on a fish can a lot of the time be the difference between winning and heart break. It’s something that can only be properly learned through doing. So get out there!